Sunday, November 22, 2009

Craftmas Bizarre, December 6th!

I'm only doing one craft show this holiday season, and it's the best one around...

Wassel and waffles! Music and videos! Entertainment! Surprises! One-of-a-kind handmade awesomeness!

Print out this invite and write "kokoleo" in the corner and you can get in FREE. See you there!

@ the FAKE Gallery

4319 Melrose Avenue


LA CA 90029

(free parking!)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

All things Fall

No time for excuses about how I've dropped the blogging ball... it's Fall! You know what that means.


Cider! Leaves! Pumpkin Ale! Hayrides! Corn Mazes! Scarecrows! Train rides through fields of sunflowers!


(me as Ballooon Boy and Erik as Joe Wilson)

(McKenna as corn, a costume I made for Sage 5 Halloweens ago)

and Candy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Swap-O-Rama-Rama... Spooky Style!

Last Saturday I took part in my 4th Swap-O-Rama-Rama, manning my ever-popular (I'm guessing super busy= popular) applique station. This season's swap had a Halloween theme, so the many of the projects we created had a spooky edge. Here's the postcard from the event:

Yeah, I should have posted those last week, before the event occurred. Sadly, my blogging has fallen by the wayside recently. I'm trying to hop back on the blog wagon though, and thought I'd start with a little recap of the swap. Here are some pics:

You can see the rest in my Flickr album. It was held at the Venice Center for Peace with Justice and the Arts in Venice, CA, our second time in this location (I blogged about the last time here.) I brought the fabric I use for my skully tees and showed people how to make appliques from it. Other popular appliques this time were flames, trees, anchors, and peace hearts. I didn't get a chance to photograph every project made at my station, but I manage to snap a few.

It wasn't as jam-packed crazy as previous swaps, so I got a chance to score a few goodies for myself this time - a pair of cords, a Banana Republic sweater, and a pink shirt (which I got a cool pixel-skull screen printed upon), plus 2 pairs of jeans for McKenna, and this awesome blank orange Gap shirt for Sage, which I immediately took to Donna and Aldo's screen station to get on of their Trick-or-Treat screen prints. I love coming home from events like this with one-of-a-kind handmade gifts for my kids.

Plus, I got to hang out a little with my craft-pal Sonya Nimri (read her blog post about the Swap here), and got a nice little notebook and birdie iron-on from Stephanie Girard's die-cut applique-making station (she wrote about the event on her blog too) . Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I'm back in craft-action!

Whoa, it's been a while since I last blogged. I'm back to teaching full time again - middle school - language arts, social studies, and art. I'm loving it, but struggling a bit to find a balance with work/kids/housework/writing/and kokoleo. I've spent the last month focusing on the first two, and now I think I can get back to doing the last two. (That poor middle one always gets the shaft.)

Now, if I haven't lost all my readers in my hiatus, I have a favor to ask. I wrote a Tooth Monster tutorial for this really cool site called and entered it in their Kids Crafts contest. I'm hoping to win a sewing machine for my school. You can view the Instructable here: The contest ends tomorrow (Sunday) night, but if you happen to read this before then, please vote for it. (I think you have to register to vote, but it's easy and they never spam you. It's a cool site to browse - there are tons of great tutorials.) Do it for the kids!

Here's how out of the craft-world loop I am. . . This project was featured on the Craft: blog and last month and I didn't even notice.

LinkToo bad I didn't sign my name to it or kokoleo would have gotten some props. Oh well, it's still nice to be featured. It's enough to make me want to start making stuff again.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy Birthdays to My Two

Today is Sage's birthday. My little, I mean medium-sized boy is 7. That's almost 10! And 10 is close to 13! He's practically a teenager! Okay, not really, but he's certainly lost all his toddlerness.

We had his party last week. It was a "water" themed party. Activities included swimming in the pool, dancing in the sprinkler, slip and slide, squirt guns, water balloons, a shark piƱata, and this cake that I made him the night before:

It's a surfer riding a wave into a graham cracker crumby shore. The 7 is actually an upside-down and slightly modified "2" candle from McKenna's cake 10 days earlier. Unfortunately she got a store-bought cake because I lamed out and we were away from home in Lake Arrowhead. She didn't mind, and I promise to go all out in the years to come. She hit the jackpot in Yo Gabba Gabba toys though - the Viking ship from her Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Theo, the walkie talkies from her Grammy and Pop Pop, and the D.J. Lance hat and glasses from us.

Being young sure is fun. Happy birthdays young'uns.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friendship Pins!

A few weeks ago, a call went out for swag bag submissions for the L.A. premiere of Handmade Nation. Surely you've heard of Handmade Nation by now - the indie documentary by Faythe Levine all about the recent resurgence of crafting in America. If you aren't lucky enough to live in a city that's hosting a viewing, it will be available this fall through Get it! It's sure to be a craft cult classic.

Living in L.A., I've had numerous opportunities to contribute to celebrity swag bags and have always declined. 50 toddler sundresses in exchange for "great celebrity exposure for kokoleo"? No thanks. I'd rather be obscure. But 200 contributions for the craft community? Sure! Here's what I made:

Friendship pins! Remember those? It was an early 80s fad. We swapped them with our friends and wore them attached to our shoelaces. It was a sweet and simple crafty gesture and I want it to make a comeback. I spent two nights putting beads on safety pins, then attaching them to my business cards.

Two per card, labeled, "Friendship Pins!"
"One for you. One for a friend."

100 sets in all, sent out into the city.

Now I need to get them out across the country, so the first 3 people to leave a comment will get a set. I'll email you soon and send some your way. To quote (kinda) an 80s sitcom theme song... You will see a little gift will be from me and the card attached will say, Thank you for being a friend.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Celebrating the Popular Arts

Let's see, what else have we done this summer? I said I'd talk about Comic-Con, but I really don't have much to say. I wasn't in a very good mood the day we went there, as evidenced in this self portrait I took on the escalator.

I'm just not all that into comic books and sci-fi stuff. There I said it. While there were some nice indie artists on the outskirts, it was mostly very commercial - major motion pictures I don't want to see and cartoon characters you see everywhere, plus dinky useless giveaways that later littered the sidewalks. Ugh. But that's just my perspective. There were thousands of other people thinking completely differently. My one ray of sunshine was getting my picture taken with Brobee from Yo Gabba Gabba:

(Sage was off with Erik and McKenna was in the convention center daycare. I don't want you to think I pushed my kids out of the way to get to Brobee.)

The signs around the Gas lamp District in San Diego said, "Comic-Con: Celebrating the Popular Arts." I think I prefer the underground arts - the undiscovered one-of-a-kinds being made all over the world not for the purpose of getting Popular, but because someone just wanted to make something new. I guess you could say all those characters and movie scripts started out that way, but then they went and got manufactured for the masses. That changes everything.

Luckily we spent most of our San Diego trip exploring the city:

And visiting the museums at Balboa Park. My favorite was the Mingei International Museum and the exhibit they had entitled “Masters of Mid-Century California Modernism”:

composed of work by or influenced by Evelyn and Jerome Ackerman of ERA Industries which operated in the 1950s-1980s. They and their handmade artisans (weavers, tile makers, silkscreeners) produced mod home decor for the masses and their style has had a major yet quiet influence on a lot of design and decor that's followed (IKEA, etc.). I found an article on them in American Craft Magazine online. They were a creative couple making the popular art of their day. If I ever become popluar, I wanna do it that way.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Juicebox Popsicles

We all know that excessive juice box use is wasteful, but sometimes they come in handy. Like in lunchboxes or purses or hiking backpacks or cars. Sometimes though, they lose their straws and then you have to drink out of the hole, which is awkward. So, what do you do when your juice boxes/pouches have lost their straws and you also coincidentally happen to be out of popsicles? Make juicebox popsicles! Just cut a hole in the top, insert some chopsticks, and stick them in the freezer.

After they're rock solid, cut off the outside and Viola! Gigantic juice pops.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Hello August

Ahhh, August... the month of my kids' birthdays, the last month of summer, the month before I start my new job, the month a play I wrote will be performed a 2,653 miles away.

What? I haven't mentioned those last few things? I'm sure I will soon enough. When I go back and read through my blog entries I notice there's a lot I don't mention. You'd think, by reading my blog that life is fine and dandy in La-La land, that I spend my days exploring L.A., crafting away, and watching my children dance in glee around me. I tend to leave all the other parts out. Like how hard it is to live out here right now. Erik hasn't been able to find full-time work, our friends are getting laid off, our state is bankrupt, our house is worth half of what we paid for it and it's in a neighborhood I don't love . Those are bummer topics. So I try to focus on the good stuff.

Like when we visited my parents in jail.

Just kidding! This was at the Autry National Center of the American West. We went there when my parents were visiting and my dad got to see all his cowboy heroes. It's a nice museum, even if country music and cowboys aren't your thing, it's still interesting. They have stuff for kids:

and stuff for people who are into wacky fabric and handicrafts:

And life-size pictures of people who died before we were born:

Pardon the crappy cell phone pictures. Our camera was broken for a month, yet another reason I haven't blogged. Let's see, what else have we done? We've swum. After 3 weeks Sage got a new waterproof cast, so the summer is not lost.

And I've been sewing up a storm, but I can't show any of it yet. Next blog post I'll show some of our San Diego/ Comic-Con trip we took a couple weekends ago. I've got some catching up to do!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Some recent commissions and an announcement...

Here are a few recent personalized commissions I've sent out:

I've made nearly 200 personalized pieces since I started offering the service on my website 4 years ago. That's a lot of letters! Thanks to some loyal customers and great referrals, I've had a steady stream of commissions that have enabled me to contribute to the family finances while staying home with my kids. I've enjoyed taking people's color/style/theme suggestions and translating them into tangible custom-made creations. Some people have even written to tell me that mothers have cried (happy tears) when they received the gift, or that it's become a child's favorite item, or a focal point in their bedroom.

So why am I getting all nostalgic now? Because I've decided that after this month, I'm going to stop taking making personalized stuff. I've sometimes taken a month or two off in order to catch up, but this time I think I'm going to hang up my letter-cutting scissors for good. It's been a great run, but it's time to move on. This doesn't mean that kokoleo is closing it's doors. In fact, I'm looking forward to spending even more time making sundresses/skirts/purses/accessories/art and all the other things I dream of making when I finally get the time.

I'll be taking orders through the end of this month though, and adding the names to my list (like Santa!) to be completed in the order they were received. And, as a special thanks to my customers, all personalized commissions will be 10% off (20% for Facebook Fans!) from now until July 31st.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My broken winged boy

I often think of my life in terms of "This time last week (or month, or year, or 5, 10, etc. years ago) I was..." and think of all that's happened since that time. This time last week I was looking forward to the Swap and meeting Jenny Hart and finishing a bunch of commissions. I certainly wasn't expecting to get a call from Sage's day camp supervisor that he had fallen out of a tree and broken his arm. That's what happened last Friday and suddenly we found ourselves on an impromptu field trip to the emergency room in Burbank.

There was no denying it was broken. Caution: If you are squeamish, click away now.

Ouch. Arm bones aren't supposed to bend like that.

or that.

So after 5 hours, several needles, and a couple unsuccessful attempts to straighten it, including this barbaric-looking device,

we left with just a splint and a popsicle and some codeine and instructions to let it rest for a day and then go to Children's Hospital to see an orthopedic surgeon.

So Sunday morning we packed a bag of distractions and went for Round Two.

Which took 7 hours, several x-rays, and a scary 15 minutes of holding my sedated boy (his eyes were open and darting around, which was eerie) while a doctor yanked and twisted and wrestled and popped it back into place, then quickly sculpted a cast around it. The nurse warned me he might be a little loopy for a while. When the sedative started to wear off Sage looked into my eyes and shouted, "ALIENS!" then looked at the doctor and nurse and shouted "ALIENS! ALIENS!" (Later he told me it was because we all had 10 eyeballs.) He also said, "Mommy?" (he never calls me mommy anymore) and I said "Yes?" and he said "I love you so much." and then, "Please stop kissing me."

Erik was outside the room with McKenna during this time and only got an occasional glance through a tiny window. It's hard to entertain a toddler in an emergency room, but we did it.

Long story short, he's fine, though he can't swim or climb things for 8 weeks. Ouch. This is going to make for a different kind of summer.

Of course I had to make his sling a little more stylin'. And I was honored to be the first to sign his cast:

and draw on it:

And, like mother, like son, when life gives you crap, make crafts! He took the splint they made for him at the first ER:

And made it into an alligator.


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